It’s finally happened.
After three years of a frankly bewildering myopia from Manchester United fans, Manchester United ex-players and Manchester United Executives, the substitute teacher has been shown the door.
His exit interview was a cringe-fest for most of us, but a heart-wrenching trauma if you’re of a Red Devil disposition. His whole tenure reminded me of The Simpsons episode where Mr. Bergstrom became Lisa’s favourite ever teacher while substituting for Miss Hoover. I’m almost surprised Ole didn’t look right down the lens of the camera to address every Manchester United fan and say…
‘You are Manchester United’
Look, we all know that this season you must have 3 or 4 of TAA, James, Chilwell and Cancelo, so if you don’t have at least three of those, you’re doing it wrong.
Defender: Tyrone Mings, Aston Villa
However, my job is to look for other options, and Aston Villa are now interesting to me after the appointment of Steven Gerrard.
Gerrard’s management style at Rangers was one of solidity, keeping it tight at the back. It’s no surprise considering the manager he got most joy under was one Rafa Benitez, who led two Liverpool teams to a Champions League final by keeping things tight.
Villa began the Gerrard-era with a clean sheet and a victory against Potter-ball, so that’s a good sign. This week they face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park, as two of the greatest midfielders of their era go head-to-head. I’m talking Gerrard v Vieira, not Milivojevic v Nakamba, to be clear.
Mings was benched for Smith’s last game in charge, but has come back into the team, kept a clean sheet and scored, making it a goal and two assists so far this season. At less than 7% ownership and under £5m, he’s worth keeping an eye on.
Midfielder: Emile Smith Rowe, Arsenal
Even while being battered by four at Anfield, Smith Rowe showed glimpses of what he’s about on Saturday evening, so he’s worth trusting once more this weekend as he faces Newcastle United at The Emirates.
Prior to GW12 he had three goals and an assist from GW9 – GW11, and Newcastle United under Eddie Howe may score their way out of trouble, but they sure as hell aren’t going to keep many clean sheets.
Forward: Raul Jimenez, Wolverhampton Wanderers
Jimenez began the season understandably slowly as he worked his way back to match fitness following his broken head last season.
However, form is temporary and class is permanent, and since GW5 Jimenez has three goals and three assists in seven GW’s. In short, the Jimenez of old looks to be back and he’s only getting warmed up.
With that in mind, a trip to Norwich City looks promising. While the Canaries started the Smith era in style last weekend, their defence is still ropey (27 conceded in 12 games).
This wolf is on the prowl and canaries are but an hors d’ouevre.
Captain: Mo Salah, Liverpool
Last week I told you that Mane might be a nice differential, and he duly outscored Salah by four points, giving those of you that listened an 8-point swing on your rivals.
Having said all that, Salah scored again, so that’s just the 11 goals, 8 assists and 16 bonus points in 12 GW’s so far. Heh. It’s almost farcical typing that y’know.
This weekend Liverpool face Southampton at Anfield, and I’ve got a feeling….
Y’know the way Southampton under Hassenhuttl have, well, shipped 9 goals TWICE?
Y’know the way Liverpool have a meaningless CL game against Porto where they can rest players?
Y’know that Triple Captain chip most of us have burning a hole in our pockets?
Outsider: Marc Guehi, Crystal Palace
Admittedly my Palace defensive tip didn’t work out last week, but they do appear to be getting more solid in general, and as pointed out above about Aston Villa, are facing a side more concentrated on stopping them than scoring against them.
£4.5m and 0.5% ownership and an ever-present in the side?